National Review Online’s in-house warblog, The Tank cooks the books, as Tom Wolfe would say, or more charitably, has a fog of war moment. Ed Morrissey compares and contrasts NRO editor Kathryn Jean Lopez’s quick response versus the stonewalling of TNR’s Franklin Foer:
Every publication eventually makes a big enough error to warrant a retraction and an apology. Even here at CapQ, I’ve had to do it a few times, and believe me, it never feels good. One has to resist the urge to rationalize mistakes and spin enough to avoid admitting error. Just as with customer service, where I often described my management position as “professional apologizer”, editors have to bite the bullet and admit error to maintain organizational credibility.
Kathryn Jean Lopez did so here. Notice that she did not blame the critics for pointing out the error or assume that the criticism was motivated by some sort of conspiracy. She didn’t, in essence, blame the customer for a faulty product. She took quick action to investigate, found obvious shortcomings, and issued an apology and a detailed accounting of the problem.
Had Franklin Foer done that when the story fell apart at TNR, he could have not just saved the magazine from a credibility collapse, he could have enhanced its standing. Instead of acting professionally, he assumed the Nixonian posture that anyone questioning TNR’s product must automatically be an enemy against whom all defenses were necessary. Instead, even in an apology, he couldn’t help blaming the customers for a shoddy product.